Meat & Livestock News

January Red Meat Export Data Reflects Continued Challenges in Global Markets


  • In January 2024, New Zealand saw a downturn in red meat exports, with a total value of $759 million, an 8% decrease from the previous year, largely due to reduced demand from China.
  • Positive developments were noted in the US and UK markets, where exports increased by 10% and 34%, respectively, alongside a significant 48% rise in chilled sheepmeat exports.
  • The overall value of sheepmeat and beef exports declined, influenced by lower prices in the Chinese market, despite gains in the US and UK markets following the new UK Free Trade Agreement.

At the start of 2024, New Zealand’s red meat industry encountered hurdles, with January’s export figures showing a decrease to $759 million, 8% less than January 2023. This reduction was most pronounced in trade with China, where exports fell by 21% to $263 million. On a brighter note, exports to the United States and the United Kingdom experienced growth, with the US seeing a 10% increase to $182 million and the UK a 34% rise to $38 million.

The industry saw a notable improvement in chilled sheepmeat exports, which surged by 48% to 4,311 tonnes, signalling a rebound from the previous two January’s low export levels, despite recent logistical hurdles.

The total volumes of sheepmeat and beef exports remained steady year-on-year, yet their value saw a decline; sheepmeat exports dropped by 9% to $305 million and beef by 6% to $320 million. The drop in export values can be attributed to the Chinese market’s decreased volume and value, with sheepmeat’s free on board (FoB) value decreasing to $5.07/kg and beef to $7.28/kg.

Conversely, the United States market demonstrated significant growth, with sheepmeat exports up by 16% to $45 million and beef by 12% to $120 million. The UK market also showed promising growth in beef exports, which increased from $588,000 in the previous January to over $2 million, largely thanks to the UK Free Trade Agreement that came into effect in May 2023. This agreement has been particularly beneficial for sheepmeat exports, which have seen a recovery from the low levels of January 2023.

Despite the challenges faced in global markets, particularly with the significant decrease in exports to China, the steady performance of fifth-quarter exports at $133 million showcases the resilience and adaptability of New Zealand’s red meat sector. The industry continues to navigate through fluctuating global demand and market conditions, striving to uphold its standing on the international stage.